Garrus, the best of what rosé has to offer
by Sophie Lamontagne, a sommelier at the Coureur des Bois bistro gourmand
Most people believe that rosé wines are value products only destined for summer gatherings, but magnificent products are offered to us all year long. How can you escape these seductive, floral, crunchy and fine wines? Which rosés are truly exceptional? One of the best, if not the greatest, is uncontestably the Garrus cuvee from Château d’Esclans.
Garrus is the flagship wine of the domain, located in the heart of the Rosé kingdom, in the Var. This beautiful region of Provence has hosted vineyards since Antiquity, back when the Roman Empire first reached these lands. Located next to Fréjus and Saint-Tropez, the Château d’Esclans benefits from the locale climate: dry, with very hot summers and mild winters. If the château itself – or, at least, its cellar – originates from before the 12th century, the most recent activity related to wine is much more contemporary; it is indeed in 2006 that Sacha Lichine purchases the domain from a Swedish pension. Grapes were already produced, but they were destined to be sold to surrounding winemakers. Mr. Lichine saw the immense potential that the region had and was inspired; this successful businessman, notably because his family owns the châteaux Prieuré-Lichine and Lascombes, believed that fine wines could be produced on this remarkable terroir.
Other cuvees are also produced under the domain’s brand. Other than Whispering Angel, Rocking Angel and les Clans (the other rosés of the domain), the Château d’Esclans also produces a white and red wine: Déesse Astrée and Déesse Diane. Garrus remains the most remarkable of the product range, with its blend that varies slightly year to year, but the Grenache – always originating from old vines of the best parcels, some of more than 80 years of age – stays dominant. The Rolle comes next, and depending on the vintage, the Syrah completes the portrait. The harvesting process is done manually, from early morning to lunchtime, as the sun of Provence during the day does not allow for afternoon work. The grapes, sorted twice, are pressed in three juices. All of this is then mixed together before the fermentation in half-muids. The result is the Garrus, a simply exceptional fine and delicate wine with elegant complexity and a soft texture.
Richard Nalley, of the Forbes Magazine, said that “Garrus brings rosé to a level that was never reached before”; Tom Stevenson of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia said he literally fell out of his chair and Robert Parker himself mentioned that it was an astounding product; this wine certainly does not lack praise! It is easy to understand the success of the product when we learn more about the team that supports Sacha Lichine for this project: Patrick Léon, a winemaker with a vast experience, notably after working with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the châteaux Mouton Rothschild and Armailhac, Opus One in California and Almaviva in Chile, to only name a few. A perfect terroir and a winemaking process executed by masters of the art: this explains why Garrus can’t be anything else other than exceptional wine.
Dashing and in the strength of its youth, the 2017 vintage charms with its lively and tense structure. The nose is sophisticated and offers enticing fruity notes reminiscent of cranberries and elderberries, followed by pleasant floral aromas. The aging in half-muids is perceptible by a slight spicy accent. The palate is fresh and sets up a bitter, but the extremely delicate finale.
With a robe of a clear salmon color, the 2013 vintage exposes, with a simple look, the finesse of this product. The nose is soft and floral, with aromas of lily and hawthorn. Light notes of gooseberry, date, and nutmeg then follow these initial aromas, before fading away to a slightly smoky finale. The palate is suave and seductive, with a remarkable texture that remains elegant, without falling into vulgarity. The finale is lengthy and complex, with an exquisite fresh aftertaste that keeps evoking the souvenir of this wonderful tasting experience.